Oxford Palestine Society in Solidarity with OA4P

26 May 2024

The Oxford Palestine Society stands with the Oxford Action for Palestine coalition who have set up two encampments in solidarity with Gaza. We support their demands which call for the University to disclose and divest all funds associated with the international arms trade and, specifically, israeli genocide, occupation, and apartheid. The encampments also demand that the University commit to support the Palestinian-led rebuilding of the Gazan higher education sector, as there are no universities left in Gaza. The Oxford Palestine Society has been attempting to bring attention to the genocide in Gaza since it began. We join the over 2,650 students, 630 faculty and staff, 14 trade unions, and 200 Oxford healthcare workers who stand behind OA4P and its demands.

Students at the University of Oxford have urged the Vice-Chancellor to use this institution’s leverage to demand change, but instead she has chosen to ignore and silence this growing movement. We condemn in the strongest possible terms the Vice-Chancellor’s decision on Thursday to call the police on her own students as they protested the University’s inaction. Instead of engaging in constructive dialogue, Irene Tracey unleashed state violence on her community. The Vice-Chancellor’s actions come after eight months of genocide, which she has yet to acknowledge as such. The Vice-Chancellor would rather extend centuries of colonial violence than confront the University’s complicity in israel’s crimes. On 1 May, the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians alerted 82 British universities - including the University of Oxford - of potential criminal complicity for investments in arms companies and israeli settlements.

The destruction in Gaza is unimaginable. The day that the encampment began, israel launched its genocidal ground assault in Rafah. In the past three weeks, israel’s bombardment of Gaza has only intensified. Daily, israel commits massacres across Gaza, from Jabalia in the North to Rafah in the South, forcing nearly one million Palestinians to evacuate to safe zones that were later bombed. A seventh mass grave has been uncovered at a Gaza hospital, following israeli attacks. Yesterday, the ICJ ordered israel to halt its military offensive in Rafah. Minutes after the ruling, israel launched an intense wave of airstrikes in central Rafah, flagrantly disregarding international law. Amidst this devastation and destruction, the University of Oxford’s Administration continues to defend its investments in genocide, apartheid, and occupation.

Our society also rejects the Vice-Chancellor’s claims regarding contact between our society and the University over the past eight months. In a newsletter sent to all members of the University on Thursday, the University’s senior leadership claimed to “have met regularly with representatives of the Oxford Palestine Society” since the beginning of the genocide in Gaza. This is inaccurate. The University Administration has never formally contacted the Palestine Society to discuss University policy towards israel’s genocide of Palestinians. In October, members of the Palestine Society joined other concerned students and faculty in pressuring the University for a meeting in the wake of the over 2,000 signatories on the Rhodes Scholars for Palestine Petition, co-authored by the Palestine Society, and addressed to the Vice-Chancellor. This is the only meeting that the Palestine Society has attended with the University in an official capacity, and it occurred before the Society was registered with the University.

Throughout the year, members of the Palestine Society have been involved in four formal meetings with senior leadership - only two of which were with Irene Tracey herself. Two of the students who have attended these meetings belong to the Palestine Society, but did not represent the Society in these meetings. Instead, these students met with the Administration in their personal capacity, alongside students and faculty from other corners of the University. There has been no formal contact from the Vice-Chancellor’s office asking to meet with, or enquiring about the welfare of, the Oxford Palestine Society. We are disappointed that the University has misconstrued the nature of these meetings to condemn the Oxford Action for Palestine coalition. We urge the University to enter into formal negotiations with these students. As the israeli invasion of Rafah continues unabated, we stand in solidarity with the students fighting against this genocide.

The Oxford Palestine Society